Susan Powell Search: No Evidence of Human Remains Found Yet

In reversal, officials say human remains not yet found in Powell search.

September 15, 2011, 7:06 AM

Sept. 15, 2011— -- No actual human remains have been found in the search for missing Utah woman Susan Powell, though police cadaver dogs did pick up scents at a desert location, police reportedly said, clarifying earlier claims that they had found remains.

"Right now, we haven't found anything except for these scents that these dogs are picking up," said West Valley City, Utah, Police Lt. Bill Merritt, according to The Associated Press. "We have not come across bones."

Earlier, police offered details about the find, saying the remains near Topaz Mountain in Juab County, Utah, were recent and in what they told Powell's father amounted to a "shallow grave."

West Valley City Police Sgt. Mike Powell, no relation to Susan Powell, added that an anthropologist even examined the remains to ensure that they were not bones "of antiquity" that had been buried in the desert for decades.

"This is something that's going to be interesting," Sgt. Powell said earlier. "We're not looking at some Indian burial ground or old cowboy from the West. It's much more recent than that. It's definitely something."

Later, officials clarified to the AP that the anthropologist was called in to determine whether the site was an ancient burial ground.

Police did not fully explain why they earlier said they had found remains.

Powell disappeared in December 2009 while her husband allegedly took their two children camping in middle of the night during a snow and rain storm. The campsite where he told police he took them is about 30 miles away from where officials reported the remains discovered.

After the discovery, Sgt. Powell said officials could not immediately determine the remains' gender or find other identifying clues that would lead police to believe it was Susan Cox Powell's body.

The sergeant would not call the remains "bones," and said that whatever police found may not have been visible to the human eye. The alleged remains were found by cadaver dogs on Wednesday.

Two fresh cadaver dogs will be brought in to go over the patch of ground where the remains were found, and then a medical examiner was likely to be called to begin the process of identifying them, Sgt. Powell said.

Police are continuing their search throughout the desert around the base of Mount Topaz.

Earlier, Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, told ABC affiliate KOMO that police had said the remains were found in a shallow grave. And he told ABC News that the more he learned about the human remains found in the desert, the more worried he is that they could be his daughter.

"It does bother me that it's in the same general area, and the more I learn about the location, the more it bothers me," Cox, said.

Cox holds out hope that his daughter, who was 28 when she disappeared, is still alive.

"They have not identified these as her remains yet. She could still be out there, maybe alive," Cox said.

Susan Powell's husband Josh Powell, 35, released a statement after officials claimed to discover remains that read, "With very little information available to the public, we can only hope that additional information is released quickly to minimize heartache to those of us who love Susan. In the meantime, we continue to hope for Susan's safe return."

The husband is the only person who the police have identified as a person of interest in his wife's disappearance.

Josh Powell said he has never been to the area where the remains may have been found. The area is a popular place where people go to hunt for gems and stones.

Throughout the nearly two-year ordeal, Josh Powell has continued to proclaim his innocence.

This summer, investigators stepped up their efforts to find Susan Powell. They searched abandoned mines in the Nevada desert and executed a search warrant on the Washington state home Josh Powell shares with his father, Steven Powell.

"I believe the police are doing a good job of the investigation and they're going to get to the truth with or without his help," Cox said.

Cox has been in a war of words with Steven and Josh Powell. Steven Powell said in August that he had a "flirtatious" relationship with his daughter-in-law. Susan Powell's father refuted those claims.

While Cox wants closure in his daughter's disappearance, he is trying to stay calm.

"It doesn't get our hopes up a lot," he said. "At the same time, it could be the break. We live that every day. Every phone call we get could be the one that tells us we've found Susan."

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